Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Review: Flesh-Eater Courts Battletome
Last weekend I picked up the new Battletome. I've had the chance to field some of the units, play two of the three battleplans, and read through most of the fluff. I haven't done enough reviews to have any particular method to my madness yet, so here goes nothing.
The Art (4/5)
I want to start here because I've been very impressed. I really love the art direction for AoS so far. I'm a big fan of their directive that artists stick to drawing actual sculpts. It really immerses me and brings the childlike imagination that this is what my battles "really look like". The book has not only a bunch of grade A art, but also contains a map of the area where one of the battleplans takes place. The map is of the "Fallow Kingdom of Voldyr" and has labelled landmarks like the "Corpse Orchards" and near the edge of the map the "Spire Tombs of the Deathrattler Queens". I know it probably makes me sound fanboyish, but I'm a huge fan of the stylized AoS maps and this one is no exception.
My only wish here is that there was a nice big two page "backdrop" art piece. I've seen some people online do battle photography with an open book in the the background to provide a backdrop for the photo. There are a couple of nice spreads that would be okay for this job, but none that would be really great for it.
The only real reason this has 4/5 instead of 5/5 is because I'm saving 5/5 for things that really blow my mind.
The Fluff (5/5)
That's right, the fluff blew my mind. It's not that the writing is particularly brilliant, it's just that I've played Vampire Counts for years, and nothing I've read comes close to this in terms of quality. The writing in this book is excellent pulp horror. Each fluff piece drives home to core concept of the Flesh-Eater Courts which is that they are completely consumed by the madness of the Ghoul Kings. Despite all of them being hideous cannibals, they believe themselves to be noble warriors. Most of the writing in the book involves some sort of surprise twist where the subject is imagining the guts they're rummaging in to be the enemy's hoard of treasure or somesuch horrifying misconception.
Each battleplan in the book has a story that goes with it. I've only read one and a half of those stories so far, but they're enjoyable and, like the art, help immerse the reader such that the battleplan will be more fun after reading.
The Battleplans (3.5/5)
Like I mentioned, I've only played two of the battleplans so far, but I've had some mixed results. I'll go through plan by plan.
- Stirring the Nest
In the first battleplan, a group of unwitting Stormcasts have entered a Ghoul King's domain only to find themselves surrounded and searching for an escape route. The Flesh-Eaters deploy on the edges of the battlefield with the Intruders in the middle. To win, the Intruders must escape via the board corners. While I had fun with this battleplan, it felt like the deck was stacked in favor of the Flesh-Eater player.
- On the Hunt
In the second battleplan, some very hungry Flesh-Eaters have set their sights on some Slaves to Darkness. I had a lot of fun with this one. The Quarry deploys in a band across the board short ways and has to run from the Flesh-Eaters to escape on the far short board edge. My brother plays Beastmen, and if you've ever battled them, you know they're crazy fast (not Slaanesh fast, but unreasonably fast nonetheless). So he was hoofing it across the board trying to escape and I was trying to cut him off. This one felt kinda' stacked against the Quarry, but it was really entertaining and tense, so it wasn't such a big deal.
- Two Became Three
This is the one I haven't played yet. Basically it's a three player scenario where two other armies were about to get battling when some Flesh-Eaters show up to.. I dunno... eat some flesh. It looks like fun, and it looks like it would actually be really good for any set of armies. It's not very Flesh-Eater specific.
The Warscrolls (4/5)
The Flesh-Eaters got a pretty massive overhaul in this release. While the Ghoul and Crypt Horror warscrolls were functionally unchanged, a surprising number of new units and characters appeared considering that there were no new models released. I'm sure you know by now that a variety of unit champions got promoted to Courtiers. Despite not being all that diverse in capabilities, the Courtiers provide a fun and different tactical experience. They don't buff their friends as much as they summon their friends. I fear I didn't make good use of them in my battles, but I got the impression that they were easy to play but difficult to master.
The Battalions (4/5)
Before this book, the only Battletome I'd really looked at was the Stormcast Eternals. While they're Battalions seemed like a bit much to me, maybe it's because it was an early release. The Battalions in the Flesh-Eater Battletome mostly required three or so units and a character or two. I found that as a former Vampire Counts player, I had most of what I needed for a lot of them, but was usually a unit or a character short. They all seem pretty enticing, which makes me want to go on a shopping spree, but having a toddler is expensive, so none of that (which is why I've been rebasing Deathrattles to occupy myself). A couple of the Battalions give pretty crazy movement bonuses and one even lets you pile in and attack during the hero phase!
All things considered, I really enjoyed this Battletome. I look forward to GW releasing more books relevant to my interests. Maybe they'll come out with a Nurgley book or Forge World will drop a Legion of Azorgh book.
Overall 4.1/5 (but remember, I'm saving those 5s for mind-blowing content)